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June 29, 2012

Isn't It Ironic?

Ruth Marcus, a columnist I usually enjoy reading, on yesterday's decision:

There are two magnificent ironies embedded in this outcome. The first is that the president, having strenuously denied that he was raising taxes with the “shared responsibility payment,” was saved by the court’s having found it to be, yes, a tax.

The second, even richer, is that President Obama’s signature domestic achievement was saved by none other than the chief justice whose confirmation he opposed. Then-Sen. Obama said he worried about how Roberts would vote in the sliver of “truly difficult” cases that “can only be determined on the basis of one’s deepest values, one’s core concerns, one’s broader perspectives on how the world works, and the depth and breadth of one’s empathy.”

Roberts’s alliance with liberals in the health-care ruling, I suspect, illuminated something of his “deepest values” and “core concerns.” Too bad protocol would prevent the president from picking up the phone to say “thanks.” Maybe even “I was wrong.”

I was with her until the last two sentences.

It's hard to imagine what protocol prevents the President of the United States from apologizing for suggesting that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court would set aside his understanding of how the world works, the effect of his rulings on his fellow Americans, and most importantly, his own core values in favor of crass partisanship. There is no construction of then-Senator Obama's remark that is not deeply, grossly insulting and offensive on both a personal and professional level.

If some obscure rule prevents Presidents from admitting they were wrong, progressives certainly didn't place much stock in it when George Bush was in the Oval Office. Bush's two terms played out to a steady drumbeat of progressives demanding that the President of the United States humble himself and admit his mistakes.

Magnificent irony, indeed.

Posted by Cassandra at June 29, 2012 07:21 AM

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Comments

Perhaps protocol prevents his trying to communicate privately with the Chief Justice, but he could certainly make gracious public statements about how wrong he'd been, and perhaps drawing a public lesson about how partisan animus can lead our opinions astray. Not happening in a million years, of course. Wouldn't fit the narrative of his awesomeness.

Posted by: Texan99 at June 29, 2012 10:06 AM

I think if he did that, he would win his reelection bid. Mittens has already collected over 4 million based on his promise to repeal Obamacare. Now, if the bill originated in the Senate, and Congress has yet to vote on funding, isn't that sort of a sticky wicket for the Obama?

Posted by: Carolyn at June 29, 2012 10:38 AM

The longer I dwell on Robert's decision the better I’m liking it. Sure, I'm disappointed that Roberts totally re-wrote the legislation to suit his ruling. That sort of legal gymnastics – judicial activism, if you will – is typically the province of the left side of the bench. But the Federalist in me is wondering aloud (I can't shut him up) if this isn't the moment where the tide has finally turned.
Yes, the abomination that is Obamacare lives yet - as a tax – but it's only a law, and it can be modified, or even undone. Supreme Court precedent, however, is damned-near forever. And by limiting the scope of the Commerce and Necessary & Proper Clauses, Roberts just put a chronically overreaching federal administrative state into a much smaller box. From now on, every federal program with a penalty attached will be scrutinized as a “tax,” and subject to the process and procedures for such levies. The back door to federal regulation of activity within the several states just got a new lock and key, and one that, politically anyway, is very tough to pick.

Yes, I’m disappointed that Roberts had to mangle the law to get there, but maybe I’m just becoming more liberal in my approach. Perhaps this time the end really does justify the means.

Either way, Democrats would be wise to put down the champagne. There's a hangover coming their way.

Posted by: It's Desert Topping-esque!!! at June 29, 2012 11:06 AM

Perhaps protocol prevents his trying to communicate privately with the Chief Justice, but he could certainly make gracious public statements about how wrong he'd been, and perhaps drawing a public lesson about how partisan animus can lead our opinions astray.

That would be gracious and 'leaderful' (my new favorite word)... both qualities I've yet to observe from Teh Won.

Posted by: Cass at June 29, 2012 11:07 AM

"gracious and 'leaderful'"
Tain't in'em.
..."by limiting the scope of the Commerce and Necessary & Proper Clauses, Roberts just put a chronically overreaching federal administrative state into a much smaller box. From now on, every federal program with a penalty attached will be scrutinized as a “tax,” and subject to the process and procedures for such levies. The back door to federal regulation of activity within the several states just got a new lock and key, and one that, politically anyway, is very tough to pick."

I raise my glass to a glass half full...

Salute!

Posted by: bthun at June 29, 2012 03:32 PM

It's hard to imagine what protocol prevents the President of the United States from apologizing for suggesting that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court would set aside his understanding....

The protocol is quite clear: apologizing is what Obama does to the enemies of America, not to Americans.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at June 29, 2012 05:41 PM

Obamacare [is...]only a law, and it can be modified, or even undone. Supreme Court precedent, however, is damned-near forever.

Precedent is, indeed, nearly permanent. And the precedent Roberts set with his ruling is to set aside altogether any meaning of limits on the Commerce or Necessary and Proper Clauses. Roberts has set the precedent that the Congress can compel any behavior it wants via the Taxing Clause.

Don't have a Government Motors car? Pay the tax man. Not paying those union dues? Pay the tax man.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at June 29, 2012 05:45 PM

Don't have a Government Motors car? Pay the tax man. Not paying those union dues? Pay the tax man.
But that's my point, Mr. Hines. Roberts ruling would seem to greatly limit the expedient of funding future federal programs with shadow "penalties" or "enhancements." The decision doesn't grant the fed any powers that it hadn't already exercised ten thousand ways, but it limits the bullsh*t "tax that isn't a really tax" as a mechanism. Now, I know I'm dreaming, but I can't help feeling that someday, somewhere, some bright young attorney is going to take the limitation Roberts' has set out and shove it right up the... nose... of some federal agency attempting to foist the funding of some idiotic federal program off onto the backs of the state taxpayers. "It's a tax!" she'll say, "and only the Congress can levy a tax! See, NFIB v. Sebelius"

And we all know how brave Congress is when it comes to levying taxes.

Posted by: It's Desert Topping-esque!!! at June 29, 2012 06:09 PM

"It's a tax!" she'll say, "and only the Congress can levy a tax!

And that's my point. The Congress now can happily tax anything its collective heart desires, for any mandative purpose it wishes.

No longer is the Tax Clause limited to taxes for the purposes of pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and [the 16 enumerated powers/purposes that are the] general Welfare of the United States....

Those limits are gone--officially, and in so many words, now.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at June 29, 2012 06:20 PM

While on the subject of 'straining' it is fun to watch Axelrod go all Cirque Soleil contortionist calling the tax a penalty. As if that would make a difference to those who will now be debiting their bank accounts for tax purposes or as a penalty for not having health care as if that makes a difference. Both will be scrutinized by the IRS. Sleep well my princes and princesses.

Posted by: vet66 at June 30, 2012 12:55 PM

Didja hear about the luxury tax on Cadillac health insurance? It seems that The Administration Knows Best. You will be taxed if you don't have insurance, and you will be taxed if you have coverage they Do Not Approve.

Posted by: Carolyn at July 1, 2012 01:29 PM

Eric!!!

They ARE promoting the General Welfare!

Twisting words indeed.

Posted by: Carolyn at July 1, 2012 01:30 PM

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